Inspired By Youthful Creativity
I sometimes think we underestimate the capacity of kids to learn and do things. They are amazingly creative and open to ideas. When helping out at kitchen classes at a school running the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program I was always struck by the ability of kids to cook quite sophisticated things and enjoy a range of foods, including vegetables shunned or derided by some of the parents. They exhibited competent knife skills once shown the rules and displayed sensible caution when frying and handling hot food. One thing they really loved to do was to put a personal stamp on the presentation of the food they cooked. This did not involve a slavish copying of Masterchef plating techniques but was a totally individual, spur of the moment invention and mostly it worked. This youthful artistic awareness is in stark contrast to the grotesque assemblages of lollies, cheap chocolate and mud cake that often constitute a child’s birthday cake and seem to me quite an insult to their developing tastes. The same sort of dumbing down happens with children’s cookbooks when in reality only minor adaptations, which recognise physical and cost limitations, need to be considered. Recently the son of a friend of mine has become an enthusiastic cook. Freeing himself from the constraints of the cookbook he has taken to experimenting and inventing recipes. Clearly proud of his accomplishments he is also presenting them with unusual artistic flair. Such an aesthetic sense requires not just the skill of manipulating the elements of a dish but also to have the concept, imagined by careful observation, fully formed in your head. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. No doubt friends and family will be earmarking him for future restaurant greatness but I believe that ability to be creative is not just great for the dinner table, it is a skill that can be continually honed and adapted for the general arts, design, science and innovation in just about any field of endeavour. When I see freedom of expression giving rise to youthful creativity I am reassured that there will always be something new, hopefully something better. Creativity is the future.